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Allianz Q4'17 profit falls 22.3% YOY; Axa eyes Q2 for partial IPO of US biz


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Allianz Q4'17 profit falls 22.3% YOY; Axa eyes Q2 for partial IPO of US biz

* EU finance ministers are set to discuss next week how to measure risks to which the bloc's lenders are exposed to and how and when to reduce them, according to Reuters. The discussions are understood to be key for Germany to support the creation of a European bank deposit guarantee scheme as part of a banking union plan.

* Roberto Gualtieri, chairman of the European Parliament's economic committee, said a "majority of the political groups" consider Irish central bank Governor Philip Lane's candidacy for the post of ECB vice president to be more "convincing" than that of Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos, Reuters reported.

* The Finnish government said it favors the idea of transforming the European Stability Mechanism into a European Monetary Fund, but is not in favor of the European Commission's proposal for regulation. Finland said the ESM must be "developed on the basis of the present intergovernmental treaty." Under the EC proposal, a European Monetary Fund would become an EU institution overseen by the European Parliament, Reuters noted.


* The U.K. government is set to back a proposal for a "dynamic reciprocal mutual recognition model" of regulations to allow the country to maintain access to the EU's single market, "three senior figures briefed on Brexit discussions" told the Financial Times. Under the proposal, which is also backed by Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, Britain and the EU will recognize each other's regulatory and supervisory regimes, with a mechanism that would monitor any divergence of the rules.

* British lenders seeking to establish a presence in Germany, in preparation for Brexit, should submit their banking license applications by June, according to the German central bank's board member, Andreas Dombret, Reuters reported.

* Barclays Plc's remuneration committee is understood to have decided to award CEO Jes Staley less than half of his maximum potential annual bonus of £1.9 million, as he continues to be investigated by regulators for identifying a whistleblower in 2016, Sky News reported. Staley will potentially be paid roughly £900,000, but sources said a final decision will be not be taken until a board meeting next week.

* Nicky Morgan, chair of the House of Commons Treasury Committee, wrote to over 30 financial firms to ask why they have not signed a pledge for gender equality, putting pressure on banks and asset managers to sign the Women in Finance Charter.

* Virgin Money Holdings (UK) Plc named Irene Dorner chair-elect to replace Glen Moreno. Dorner, who will also become an independent nonexecutive director of the company, will join Virgin Money's board of directors as chair-elect March 1.

* FinecoBank Banca Fineco SpA Irish subsidiary Fineco AM Ltd. is seeking to launch an asset management company in Dublin to invest on other types of funds, sources told The Irish Times. FinecoBank, which part of UniCredit SpA, is still awaiting central bank authorization for the new firm.

* Monzo's international head, Thomas George, said the U.K. digital bank is expanding its operations to Ireland, having obtained passporting approval from the Bank of England's Prudential Regulation Authority last week, The Irish Times reported.

* Kanye West and a group of Lloyd's of London syndicates have settled a $10 million lawsuit relating to the singer's cancelled shows, City A.M. reported.


* Allianz Group reported preliminary net income attributable to shareholders of €1.43 billion for the fourth quarter of 2017, down 22.3% from €1.84 billion earned in the prior-year period. For full year 2017, Allianz's attributable net income was €6.80 billion, compared to €6.96 billion in 2016. The company noted that its fourth-quarter 2017 results were affected by the one-off impact of U.S. tax changes and the sale of its stake in Oldenburgische Landesbank AG.

* Hamilton, Bermuda-based Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son Ltd. agreed to acquire Deutsche Bank AG's banking and custody business in the Cayman Islands, Jersey and Guernsey. Deal terms were not disclosed.

* Chinese conglomerate HNA Group Co. Ltd.'s Austrian asset manager C-Quadrat has further reduced its stake in Deutsche Bank to approximately 8.8%, the Financial Times reported.

* Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank put 1.2 million shares — or a 1.2% stake — in Poland's Bank Zachodni WBK SA on the market as part of a hedge deal with the bank's majority owner Banco Santander SA, Handelsblatt wrote.

* Bayerische Landesbank has potentially made loss of €60 million on a €200 million loan it gave to troubled South African retailer Steinhoff International Holdings NV, according to the German media, Reuters wrote.

* The sale of HSH Nordbank AG to a consortium of Cerberus Capital Management LP and J.C. Flowers & Co. for between €700 million and €1 billion is expected to be finalized by the end of February, Handelsblatt wrote.

* Talanx AG CEO Herbert Haas said the insurer would spend up to €5 billion for acquisitions if opportunities arise, preferably to strengthen its U.S. business, Handelsblatt wrote. The insurer also plans to raise premiums by 15% for its industrial fire insurances, which were unprofitable in 2017.

* Employees of Credit Suisse Group AG will get an extra bonus in case anyone notices and reports alleged misconduct or fraudulent behavior of colleagues to their superiors, a move aimed at minimizing regulatory penalty risks for the bank, Finews wrote.

* Adrian Künzi, most recently CEO of Notenstein La Roche Privatbank AG, has been appointed CEO of the Zurich branch and head of the northern Europe region within the private banking division of Union Bancaire Privée UBP SA, effective March 1.

* MoneyPark AG, the mortgage brokerage unit of Helvetia Holding AG, acquired fintech startup Finovo AG in order to expand its new business unit for corporate and institutional clients.

* Banque Bonhôte & Cie SA acquired FidFund Management SA, one of the leading real estate fund investment firms in Switzerland.

* More than 10,000 cryptocurrency buyers are feared to have lost as many as 12,000 Bitcoins, currently worth roughly $116 million, in an Austria-based investment scheme called "Optioment" after the digital money suddenly disappeared, Die Presse reported. Austrian police have identified two suspected Austrian fraudsters and asked Interpol to investigate additional suspects in Denmark, Latvia and Germany.


* The French government tightened rules over fintech access to bank data by passing a law making it obligatory for fintechs to use banks' Application Programming Interfaces, or APIs, as soon as they have been developed, and banning web-scraping from banks with APIs in place, Les Echos reported. French banks say their APIs will be ready for use by the end of the year.

* Axa confirmed that it is on track to list part of its U.S. operations grouped under Axa Equitable Holdings Inc., aiming to carry out the transaction in the second quarter, Les Echos reported. The company said it has yet to determine the number of shares to be listed and the expected price range.

* CNP Assurances SA acquired a stake in French mobile payment solutions provider Lydia, through its Open CNP corporate venture program, as part of a €13 million funding round.


* Spanish Supreme Court Judge Fernando Andreu said that the two inspectors appointed by country's central bank to analyze the process leading up to the sale of Banco Popular Español SA to Banco Santander SA last year should look into whether the prospectus and documentation corresponding to the capital increase launched by Popular in May 2016 offered a "faithful image" of the bank and were free of "any kind of manipulation or distortion," Europa Press reported.

* Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA's board has approved the bank's absorption of its Portuguese subsidiary, although the transaction still requires approval from the ministry of economy and competition, Europa Press wrote. The transaction, which was first announced last month, is expected to close this year.

* Meanwhile, BBVA said it has partnered with a start-up to provide online banking services to small businesses and freelancers in the U.S. The start-up, named Azlo, is a fintech funded by BBVA's New Digital Businesses unit based in San Francisco.

* Portugal's central bank said it has put into public consultation a project aimed at preventing money laundering and terrorist financing, which aims to define the means and mechanisms that financial entities have to comply in this area, Jornal de Negócios reported.


* Generali is in talks with China Tianying to sell its Portuguese assets, according to a Dealreporter report cited by Il Sole 24 Ore.

* Mediobanca - Banca di Credito Finanziario SpA has unrealized gains of €2.1 billion on its 13% stake in Generali, up from roughly €1.99 billion at 2017-end, Reuters wrote.


* Norwegian central bank Governor Øystein Olsen said the regulator may raise interest rates later in 2018 due to higher economic growth in the country and abroad, even though inflation was still below target.

* Bjørn Kise will step down as chairman of Bank Norwegian AS and owner Norwegian Finans Holding ASA. Kise, who has been chairman of the bank since it was founded in 2007 and is also chairman of airline Norwegian, said he is stepping down to avoid doubt about how his different roles affect the companies, Dagens Næringsliv noted.

* Danish pension fund ATP Arbejdsmarkedets Tillaegspension unit ATP Private Equity Partners said it will no longer invest in venture funds, Finanswatch reported. ATP Private Equity Partners will also close its office in New York. The decision followed a review of ATP's success in the area and comes amid stricter regulatory requirements.

* Swedish payment solutions company Klarna Holding AB, which is expected to receive its full banking license this summer, is preparing to launch its own credit card this spring, Breakit reported. Klarna will also be launching a new consumer app in Sweden, Finland, Germany and three other countries in March.

* Icelandic lender Arion banki hf. agreed to buy back 9.5% of its issued share capital from Kaupthing ehf subsidiary Kaupskil ehf. Settlement is expected to take place Feb. 21, conditional upon a final settlement between the Icelandic government and Kaupskil about the latter's exercise of a call option on the state's 13% share in Arion banki.


* PAO Promsvyazbank could receive up to 1 trillion Russian rubles of loans issued to companies from the Russian defense sector that will be transferred from other lenders, Reuters reported, citing Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov. The bank could also receive between 80 billion rubles and 100 billion rubles in capital via special instruments that were used by the Russian government in the past to support the local banking sector.

* Meanwhile, Kommersant reported that Promsvyazbank former owners, Dmitry and Aleksey Ananiev, filed a lawsuit with Moscow Arbitration Court to contest the launch of a financial recovery procedure for the lender and its placement into provisional administration in December 2017.

* Otkritie Financial Corp. Bank repaid part of liquidity support received from the Russian central bank at the beginning of a financial recovery procedure launched for the lender in August 2017, Kommersant reported. The lender reportedly repaid 150 billion rubles at 2017-end, and made another 180 billion ruble repayment at the beginning of February.

* Russian banks with high levels of cyber risks could be required to keep additional capital buffers of between 1% and 3%, in line with a regulation that is being prepared by the Russian central bank and is expected to be published in July 2018, Kommersant reported.

* Unnamed hackers managed to steal 339.5 million rubles in an attack on the SWIFT international payments messaging system in Russia, which took place in 2017, Reuters reported, citing the Russian central bank.

* Crédit Agricole SA CEO Philippe Brassac told Rzeczpospolita that the French bank wants to accelerate its growth in Poland by focusing on organic growth, but also remaining open to potential acquisitions.

* The Polish finance ministry put forward for consultations its proposal introducing an employer-sponsored pension system, which could be launched in 2019, news agency PAP reported.

* A group of Palestinian investors plan to launch a bank in Bosnia and Herzegovina, SEENews reported, citing the country's Foreign Investment Promotion Agency.

* The Czech financial arbitrator invalidated a life insurance agreement concluded between Ceská pojištovna a.s. and one of its clients, Hospodarske Noviny reported. Legal experts believe that the arbitrator's decision could apply to hundreds of thousands of insurance contracts concluded between 2005 and 2013, but Ceska Pojistovna insists that the decision concerns only that specific insurance contract.


Middle East & Africa: Iran moves to stem rial slide; Ethiopia PM resigns; Egypt central bank rates cut

Latin America: Intercorp's profit tumbles in Q4'17; Banco Agibank mulls IPO

North America: Wells Fargo selling Puerto Rican assets for $1.7B; House OKs 'Madden Fix' bill

North America Insurance: Excess capital may dampen property rate hikes; HHS head vows to uphold ACA


Global investment bank revenues fall to post-crisis low in 'challenging' 2017: Aggregate revenues from investment banking at 12 large U.S. and European companies hit their lowest level since 2008, as low volatility hit fixed-income trading, Coalition's latest "IB Index" report shows.

Rabobank expects risk-weighted assets to soar due to Basel III: Yet the Dutch lender has not ruled out that regulators could make a last-minute amendment to the recently finalized rules to level the playing field for banks with lower risk profiles.

Aegon hopes to put SEC probe behind it as settlement nears: The Dutch insurer's U.S. asset management business expects a regulatory probe into modelling errors to conclude in 2018, with €85 million set aside for a potential settlement.

House prices, inflation will inform Sweden interest rate decision: The Riksbank, Sweden's central bank, held interest rates at negative 0.5% but hinted at a rise later in 2018. Analysts and economists have not interpreted the messaging as being especially hawkish.

Sheryl Obejera, Arno Maierbrugger, Danielle Rossingh, Esben Svendsen, Beata Fojcik, Heather O'Brian, Brian McCulloch, Sophie Davies, and Mariana Aldano contributed to this report.

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